Last April 1606 migratory ducks landed on a tar sands tailings pond, or what I would like to call a man made toxic tar pit, and met their end. The cause of death for these birds was drowning. Apparently the birds landed in one of Syncrudes oil-slick toxic waters and were sucked down and drown. This image evokes images of prehistoric tar pits swallowing large animals whole.
Syncrude came out to the community to apologize for the death of the ducks and ensure they are doing their best to ensure that this will not happen again.
George Poitras, a Mikisew Cree Nation community spokesman, said the meetings were an opportunity for the community to advise Syncrude that it has “lost its trust” in not only Syncrude but the entire industry as a whole as well as in government as a regulator.
During this meeting many communities members voiced their concerns to Syncrude, including a group of youth you brought forward placards and a letter they received from Syncrude as a response to one they had sent earlier in the year. The youth stated the response they received from Syncrude was a joke and include the CEO stating that he too enjoyed fishing in the Athbasca river with son and commended the youth for their concern for the environment.
It went on to state that Syncrude sincerely felt that they were not contributing to the contamination of the river and were in fact working to protect the river. Further suggesting that the young people should finish high school and gain post secondary education in Environmental science and pursue careers within Syncrude.
This letter was marked up with “Is this a joke?” The youth went on to state that they have seen dead fish and birds on the lake sides. They wanted to be able to swim in the lake, they wanted to feel safe, and asked that they please stop polluting their lake and river.
One of the most alarming statements from Syncrude was when asked if any other animals have died in the tailings ponds, and he replied nonchalantly that over the years they have removed a few BEARS and MOOSE!!!
I don’t understand how any of us can just stand by any longer.
I am happy to report that RAN will be collaborating with the Indigenous Environmental Network to help facilitate a Tar Sands Action Camp in Fort Chipewyan tentatively set for June. This camp will empower the community members of Fort Chipewyan to take action and speak for themselves. I am looking forward to working closely with the community in the coming months.